Originally Answered: What age should I put my son in daycare? I don't just want a?
I had the exact same dilemma with my first born (now expecting the second).
Although I was a first-time mom, it was common sense to me to figure that until baby's one, all you get at daycare is basic babysitting services: diaper changing, feeding, sleeping, lots of crying. And all that pretty expensive too. I had visited a few daycare centers and none impressed me. And truth be told , there wasn't anything much to impress at this age. That'a what all babies do all day: eat, sleep, poop and again.
when I was given the tour of the facilities, I was told about what wonderful programs they had (motor skills, singing, reading, etc.) a bunch of crap, the babies were crying their lungs out (and Primrose was one of them-as others said-expensive and not alotdifferent from others).
And all of this was understandable, I just didn't want them to come at me with that salepeople's attitude "we provide the best care for your baby". I mean, pleeeeease, at least that I would have expected from them for the money I was paying.
I think young babies under one don't really need gymnastics classes, or science (or whatever the daycare promises). They thrive on one-on-one attention (which in daycare is at the very best 3 babies to one teacher). when you're at home, you can take that shower later, after the baby goes to sleep. At daycare there are a bunch of crying babies at the same time, and teachers have to prioritize their needs.
But after one they start the "brain development" as you put it, in FULL SWING. While I do not diminish the importance of starting working on the baby's brain since birth (and you probably heard about playing music and reading in-utero to Einstein jr.), I noticed that toddlers (over 1) are learning more as they are older and mastered a few other skills as well (listening, following commands etc. ). And this is the age and stage where I was very happy my girl went to daycare. They have class time in high chairs around the table watching the teacher, and doing the same, learning every day.
So to answer your question, I do think that after one you'll see more results on their "brain development", than before.
I do not deny the fact that babies learn from birth and one needs to "feed" their ever expanding brain, but it is not worth the money the daycare are asking for the services provided for that age (babysitting). You can accomplish the same thing by having the baby at home (with you or a relative if that's an option), trust me, you and your baby won't miss on anything. And at one enroll him in a more conventional setting (daycare). They just start taking off from there.
Moreover, I wanted to keep my baby away from daycare the first year because of the diseases they get (frequent colds, ear infections, hand-foot-mouth, etc). But that wasn't possible in my case for more than 7 months, and the second day of daycare she came home with snotty nose, cold, sinus, ear infection. The runny nose hasn't cleared up to this day (19 mo)
This is my take on stay-at-home vs. daycare for the first year.